Thursday, February 25, 2010

Identical Strangers: Twins Adopted Separately in Secret Study

In 2004, two adopted women in their 30s suddenly discovered that they had an identical twin. Their families hadn't known this when they were adopted in New York--they were part of a secret research project conducted by the Louise Wise agency that separated identical twins as infants and followed their development. It was the perfect nature vs. nurture study. The parents were only told that the children were already part of "an ongoing child study" but no more details.

The two women, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein, have reunited and are amazed at their similarities. Other than looks, they share many personality traits and interests. They mourn the 35 years they were separated and the lies that kept them from knowing about each other.

Because of the controversial nature of the study, the results have been sealed until 2066. There were 13 children involved in the study. Four still don't know about their twins.

Bernstein and Schein said, "It's kind of disturbing to think that all this material about us is in some file cabinet somewhere..." Um, yeah. Talk about adding another layer of secrecy and records-hiding to an adoption story!

Together they wrote a memoir called Identical Strangers. I'm interested in the story, but quite underimpressed with the excerpt here on NPR. Has anyone read it?


Peppermint Patty said...

This sounds really interesting!

Have you heard of "Hicks Babies?"

Marianne said...

I can lend you my copy!

Liberty said...

I'm going to look them up as soon as I get home, Patty--thanks for the tip!

Liberty said...

Patty--oh yes, that black market adoption doctor in Georgia. I've heard a little about it. Looks like some of the kids adopted then have been reconnecting with birth family. So sad and scary. And not so long ago! We like to think those things don't happen in America...hmmmm